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Difference Between Synthetic and Natural Vitamins

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Last Updated On :
  • 23/04/2024
  • 2 min read

Vitamins are essential nutrients that help your body perform well and stay healthy. They have important functions in various bodily processes, such as growth, development, immunity, metabolism, and vision. However, different vitamins serve different purposes.

Depending on their sources, production, and structure, vitamins can be classified into two major categories: synthetic vitamins and natural vitamins.

Understanding Synthetic vs Natural Vitamins

Synthetic vitamins are artificial substances chemically identical or similar to the natural forms of vitamins. They are usually produced in laboratories or factories using chemical reactions or extraction methods.

Synthetic vitamins are often added to foods, beverages, and supplements to enhance their nutritional value or prevent deficiencies.

Natural vitamins are organic substances naturally found in plants, animals, or microorganisms. They are usually obtained from whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs, dairy, or fermented products.

Natural vitamins are often consumed as part of a balanced diet or taken as supplements to support health and wellness.

To learn the difference between natural and synthetic vitamins, let's explore various sources for each type of vitamin.

Vitamin Type Natural Vitamin Synthetic Vitamin
Vitamin A Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, liver, cod liver oil, beta-carotene Retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, beta-carotene
Vitamin B Complex Whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, yeast, B-complex Thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, cyanocobalamin, biotin, pantothenic acid
Vitamin C Citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, broccoli, peppers, rose hips, acerola cherry Ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, ascorbyl palmitate
Vitamin D Mushrooms, fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, butter, sunlight, vitamin D3 Ergocalciferol, cholecalciferol, vitamin D2, vitamin D3
Vitamin E Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ, avocado, almond oil, tocopherol Dl-alpha-tocopherol, dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, dl-alpha-tocopheryl succinate
Vitamin K Leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, natto, fermented foods, vitamin K2 Phylloquinone, menaquinone, vitamin K1, vitamin K2

Are Synthetic Vitamins as Good as Natural?

Absorption and Bioavailability

Natural vitamins are more easily absorbed and utilised by your body. They are compatible with your digestive system and cellular receptors. They also contain other nutrients like enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals.

These nutrients enhance their absorption and bioavailability. For example, natural vitamin C from citrus fruits or berries comes with bioflavonoids, which increase its uptake and retention in your tissues.

Potency & Effectiveness

Natural vitamins are more potent and effective than synthetic ones. They have higher biological activity and can perform their functions more efficiently. They also have a broader spectrum of action, as they can interact with multiple targets and pathways in your body.

For example, natural vitamin E from nuts or seeds contains eight different tocopherols and tocotrienols. They have additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Toxicity Risks

Natural vitamins are less likely to cause toxicity and side effects than synthetic ones. They are balanced and regulated by your body's feedback mechanisms. They also have a lower potential for accumulation, as they are excreted more readily.

For example, natural vitamin A from carrots or spinach is converted to retinol only when needed. In contrast, synthetic vitamin A from supplements can build up in your liver and cause toxicity.

Synergistic Effects

Natural vitamins synergise with other nutrients. They work together to produce greater benefits than individually. They also complement each other, as they can fill in the gaps or correct each other's imbalances.

For example, natural vitamin D from mushrooms or fish oil works with calcium and magnesium to support bone health and prevent osteoporosis.


Natural vitamins offer many advantages over synthetic ones. However, this doesn't imply that synthetic vitamins are always harmful.

Natural vitamins may not meet your daily requirements, especially if your body lacks a specific vitamin. In such cases, your doctor usually recommends synthetic vitamin intake. It is advisable to consume synthetic vitamins only after proper consultation with a doctor or medical practitioner.

When caring for your body by consuming essential vitamins, don't overlook the importance of safeguarding your health with a medical insurance plan.

When you buy health insurance online, your health insurance provider covers expenses related to hospitalisation, ICU, ambulance services, and consultations. To ensure you maximise the benefits of health insurance, carefully assess the inclusions, exclusions and the claim settlement process.


What is the difference between natural and synthetic vitamin E?

Natural vitamin E, such as nuts, seeds, or vegetable oils, contains eight different types of tocopherols and tocotrienols. However, synthetic vitamin E, made from petrochemicals or vegetable oils, only has one kind of tocopherol, dl-alpha-tocopherol.

Which vitamin B is better, natural or synthetic?

According to some research, natural vitamin B could be more easily absorbed, effective, and safe than synthetic vitamin B.

Are synthetic vitamins safe?

Synthetic vitamins may be less effective and bioavailable than natural vitamins. However, with the right prescription from a medical professional and the correct dosage, synthetic vitamins are safe to consume.

Which synthetic vitamins to avoid?

You should consume synthetic vitamins as prescribed by a medical practitioner. Avoid self-diagnosis and consuming synthetic vitamins without consulting with a healthcare professional, as incorrect dosage can be harmful to your health.

How do I know if a vitamin is synthetic?

One way to identify synthetic vitamins is to look for words that begin with “dl” or end with “ate” or “ide” in the ingredients list. Another way is to check if the product lists natural food sources.

Are GNC vitamins synthetic?

Yes, most GNC vitamins are synthetic. They are made artificially in a lab using harsh chemicals.

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